‘Structural’ Category

Mackinaw Bridge

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

This photo is of the Mackinaw Bridge, which connects spans between the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Lower Peninsula over Lake Michigan/Huron. The Mackinaw Bridge is suspension bridge and was completed in 1957. The length of the bridge is 26,372 feet (4.99 miles) and its longest span is 3,800 feet. Suspension bridges are unique in the way the loads of the bridge are transferred to the ground. The cables of a suspension bridge work in tension, carrying the loads to the two towers which work in compression against the foundations on the earth. The cable ends are then secured in massive blocks of concrete that hold the tension in the cables completing the load path.

Suspended-Cable Pedestrian Bridge

Photo Credit: Timothy Lewis

This 255 ft. long suspended-cable pedestrian bridge is located in Nueva Providencia, Guatemala and was constructed in May 2012 by Marquette University Engineers Without Borders over the course of 15 days. The design uses concrete masonry foundations, steel suspension cables, concrete anchors, and wooden decking. This bridge type was selected because it will be far above the water line and in an extreme rain event, it would be safe from damage incurred by large floating debris in high water. The structure consists of 3 deck cables, 2 handrail cables, and wind guys on either side of the bridge for lateral stability. This bridge services a local community of more than 350 people and restores their year-round access to healthcare, employment, and education.

Mike O’ Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge – Hoover Dam Bypass

Photo Credit: Jessie Benaglio

Mike O’ Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is built over the Colorado River near the Hoover Dam connecting Nevada and Arizona. It was meant to bypass driving over the Hoover Dam so there is not as much traffic for the pedestrians viewing the Dam. This bridge opened October 18, 2010. It is the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the United States. It is the second highest bridge in the United States, 840 feet above the Colorado River, and also the widest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere.

The bridge was constructed with seven pairs of columns. The arches were constructed on both sides of the bridge simultaneously while being supported by diagonal cables. When the two halves of the arch was completed, there was only a 3/8 inch gap which was filled with reinforced concrete.

Pin and Hanger Assembly

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

This is a common type of connection seen on road bridges. Next time you are driving on the highway, look up at a bridge you go under and see if you notice one of these. Pin and hanger assemblies are used to connect two girders together where the bridge span is otherwise too long for one girder. One girder is supported by a column to the earth, and on the cantilevered end of this girder is the connection to the second girder. While these connections are common sights, they have been determined to be too costly to maintain and ineffective at preventive catastrophic failure. For this reason, new bridges aren’t built using this type of connection.

Tubular Electrical Transmission Tower

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

The transmission tower shown in this photo uses a steel tube to meet the load requirements needed to support power transmission lines over a distance. This type of transmission tower is not the most common, but it is gaining popularity due to its durability and ease of construction.

Lattice Electrical Transmission Tower

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

You’ve probably seen one of these before. This is the most common structure used to support power transmission lines from one location to another location. This particular structure uses a steel lattice to meet the load requirements needed in this application.

Cable Stay Pedestrian Bridge

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen here is the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge in Omaha, Nebraska. This serpentine cable stay bridge crosses the Missouri River and is an impressive 3000 feet long. The bridge connects two parks, one in Nebraska and one in Iowa, to make an interstate-park system that people can enjoy during all seasons of the year. This bridge is certainly one of the most visually beautiful pedestrian bridges in the world.

Reduced Moment Steel Connection

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen here is a fully braced moment connection in a hybrid steel and wood structure. After the 1994 Northridge, California and 1995 Kobe, Japan earthquakes, however, fully braced moment connections were determined to be inadequate in resisting the forces generated by earthquakes due to many failures observed in building inspections after the event. Now days, as a result of work done at the University of California at Berkeley and elsewhere, reduced moment beam connections were determined to be a solution. The reduced beam can be seen just to the left of the beam column connection. See here for a brief explanation of how reduced moment connections work.

Indian Pier Crumbling in Saltwater

Photo Credit: Andrew Sisson

Seen here is yet another example of the crumbling infrastructure that humans depend on in our day to day lives. This is a reinforced concrete pier in India that is in bad shape. Note how the resteel is clearly visible on the near columns and beams and is even completely exposed on all sides on a few of the columns farther away. Knowing that this is salt water makes the situation even more upsetting. This is due to the chlorides in the water corroding the steel even faster than if it were in fresh water.